Saturday, November 30, 2013

For Those Who Hate Elf-On-A Shelf: Just The Basics

I am not a fan of that phenomenon known as Elf-On-A-Shelf. In case you're not familiar with this “newest tradition,” basically it involves a doll that is sold with a book that explains how the Elf keeps a watchful eye over the inhabitants of the home. When everyone is sleeping, he flies to the North Pole and reports back to Santa whether the kids have been naughty or nice. Then he flies back to the house (too bad he doesn't earn frequent flyer points) just in time for everyone to find him sitting in a new position in the morning. We received our Elf from a very sweet friend a few years back and my daughter was immediately charmed by the little guy she named “Seymore.”

Yes, the Elf extends the magic of Christmas, but overall, I think he's a smug little snitch and the fact that he's supposed to move about every night means another thing I have to add to my “To Do” list. Yuck. Tons of people have a blast with it, putting the doll in creative positions, in imaginative places. I'm not one of those. I just try not to disappoint my child. So here are my tips for providing a very basic Elf-On-A Shelf experience:

  1. Try to have Elf come as late as possible in December, preferably after you've already put up your Christmas decorations. You could even wait until the kids ask for him on the off chance that they'll forget all about him (although with all the hoopla surrounding Elf this season, I doubt that will happen. Apparently Elf's publicist is on overdrive.). Obviously the later he comes, the fewer hiding spaces need to be found.
  2. Before he comes, make a list of places he could hide. This will help you during one of times when you belt out of bed while your inner parent screams, “Holy S***! I forgot to hide that friggin' Elf!” It also helps make sure you don't put the cretin in the same place and you can cross of the hiding spots as you use them. If you save the list on the computer, you can reference it next year.
  3. When Elf does come, confine him to one floor or room. He'll be easier to hide and spot if he tends to hang out near one place.
  4. Enlist the help of an older child who might be on to the little snitch. They LOVE knowing something a younger sibling doesn't and are probably full of notions about where the smug little guy can hang out.
  5. Have excuses ready in case Elf forgets to hide one night. The website From Grind To Wine ( lists some very funny ones. Keep them handy.
  6. Ask yourself, does Elf really need to be around every day? If you need to, take a break. Elves can get stuck in traffic on the way from the North Pole. If you get tired, give yourself and the little snitch a night off.
And don't feel bad that you're not one of those mega-creative types found on Pinterest who find all kinds of cutesie places for the Elf. Instead, give yourself some credit for trying to do something especially nice for your kid at Christmas. 


For those of you who read my tips for Dealing With Family At Thanksgiving, I promised I'd update you on how implementing some of those suggestions worked for me. It was mixed. My idea of having different people serve various dishes didn't work, mostly because the kitchen is so small that I didn't want the foot traffic in and out of the room. I chose to do all the serving which, in truth, minimized how much I ate, so the result was positive. The family valiantly pitched in and helped when I asked them to, which took some of the stress out of the feast.  By serving dinner promptly at 3:30, I had effectively limited the duration of the visit since one of my guests likes to go to be early and insisted on being ferried home a mere four hours after arrival.  Thanksgiving Bingo was a massive success; I had coupled it with some word searches and both activities kept young and old occupied for about an hour. We'll be doing something similar at Christmas.

We didn't need the conversation starters since catching up with my children was all these women wanted to talk about. After that, we kept the talk neutral ...until dessert when things got a bit heated and I retreated to the kitchen.  My husband, a very wise man, and I had chatted before dinner about the merits of diplomacy and he had pointed out that sometimes it's easier to walk away from someone when you realize that it's their shortcomings that make them act a particular way and not your own. An admirable strategy, to be sure, but not one that worked for me; giving myself a time-out was smarter. 

Again, kudos to my family for helping with the feast. You guys are the best!

Please come back and visit me again soon when I'll be reviewing some of the books we received for Chanukah. And, as always, thanks for reading!!

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